Car Basics For Dummies

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Tips

This entry marks the start of a new series on the basics of how cars work. Now, I drove for a long time before I learned how an engine works. Phrases like “blew a gasket” and “torque converter” might as well have been old Icelandic sayings. Looking under the hood of my car felt a bit like looking at a bird’s nest or a Rorschach blot: oh, that’s interesting …I wonder what that could be?

The powerful engine

Why did I never bother learning about cars? First, no one in my family is really a “car person,” so I didn’t have a parent or older sibling who could teach me. Second, the mechanical complexity of a car seemed both boring and intimidating. Finally, it just didn’t seem important.

Now that I am a more enlightened driver, however, I realize that knowing about how a car works is worth the bit of effort and time it may take to understand some of the mechanics. Even those of us with only the haziest recollections of high school physics can still grasp the fundamentals of how a car functions. Knowing this not only gives you a greater appreciation for the mechanical marvels contained in your car, but also equips you with basic vocabulary and diagnostic tools that will come in handy should something go wrong with your car. Having a greater awareness of how my car works also helps me to take better care of my car and to be a better driver. I feel more secure behind the wheel now that my car seems more like a mechanical marvel and less like a complete mystery.

In the following series of posts, I’ll explore, in very basic terms, the rudimentary functions of an average car. These entries are designed for those with little or no mechanical expertise and knowledge of cars. I’ll follow up each explanatory post with one about basic maintenance and common problems associated with that car part. As it stands now, this series will cover the following areas:

Engine – Part 1 and Part 2

Transmission—manual and automatic

Drive train—brakes,( Part 1 – Braking Basics;  Part 2 –  Disc and Drum; Part 3 – Power and Antilock),  differentials, tires, steering (Part 1 and Part 2)

Accessories—heating and AC, fuel gauge and odometer, cruise control

If there’s a topic you’d particularly like to see featured that isn’t on this list, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

|

Customer Reviews

Defensivedriving.com has a ShopperApproved rating of 4.7 based on 86855 ratings and reviews.

Craig TX, United States
So far the experience is straight forward and easy to understand.
james TX, United States
Great and easy experience.
Lauren United States
Great experience, easy to use
Kestin TX, United States
Very informative and not boring.
Stephanie
Quick and painless
Samantha
Great program for the money
Dustin
It’s been great!
Carol
Very easy
Sheila
Quick and easy to sign up for defense driving.
Kerry
Very simple
MANDA
Super easy
Brandon
Quick and easy.
Mansour
Easy and smooth
Lee TX, United States
Very convenient service.
Josef
Easy to sign up
Manuel
Quick and easy
Mia
awesome!
Erasmo
quick and efficient registration
K
quick and easy
Cooper
very easy!
Vajuiana
Easy, I loved it.
Alexis
Quick and easy
mary
really good
Melissa
Very easy!
See all reviews on shopperApproved.com
Why DefensiveDriving.com
  • 20 Years in Business
  • Over 2 Million Customers Served
  • Highest Possible Better Business Bureau Rating
  • Award Winning Course